Last night, Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was pulled after three innings in a 9-7 loss to the Miami Marlins. It was his second subpar start in as many games. And today, according to NBC 4 in Washington, the team has decided the circus is over.
There would be no more monitoring his pitches or worrying about his arm. The Washington Nationals, the team with the best record in baseball, will not pitch Stephen Strasburg for the rest of the season and postseason.
Nbcwashington.com quotes Nationals manager Davey Johnson saying Strasburg "wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shut down."
This goes back to something I wrote in a Bleacher Report article last month. The Strasburg innings limit should never have been made public. And the handling of Strasburg could have been adjusted when the Nationals made their surprising run at the National League East.
He could have been shut down in the middle of the season, or used once a week, or had his innings reduced at the beginning of the year.
Instead, the Nationals will go into the postseason weaker than otherwise possible. Washington will see its first postseason since 1933 a man short.
Then again, maybe by shutting him down now after a few bad starts, the Nationals could spin the situation by not pitching well.
Maybe that was part of the plan. Wait for his next bad start and then shut him down and be able to say to fans "Hey! He was wearing down."
Either way, the Nationals still have a solid pitching staff as they go into the playoffs. But they are no longer the prohibitive favorite.
Circumstances that align for a legitimate run at a pennant do not come every year. They landed on the Nationals lap this year and they can still win it all in 2012. However, they made it just a little bit harder for themselves by taking Strasburg out of the equation.